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Yemen Youth Prepare to Take a Greater Role in Country's Future

February 24, 2012
Yemen protesters gather in training and information tents during the historic p
Yemen protesters gather in training and information tents during the historic political transition in February.

Youth make up a large percentage of Yemen's population and young revolutionaries played a prominent role in the year-old protest movement. However, as established political opposition parties began to take over Yemen's revolution and negotiate the transition from long-time ruler President Saleh, youth began to feel increasingly marginalized. Given the country's fractured politics and the violent turns the revolution had taken, they also felt that demonstrated leadership from non-violent youth would benefit the political transition as well as reduce violent acts in their country.

It was this that drove members of two prominent youth groups — the Coordinating Council for the Youth Revolution of Change (CCYRC) and the Revolutionary Movement of the Youth of Al-Ourouk and Al-Agharia — to seek support from IREX and its partners leading up to the presidential election.

In response, implementers of the Justice and Dignity program quickly set up training and information tents at activity hotbeds in Ta'az, Aden and Sana'a's "Change Square." These tents provided a place for youth to train others, share information on non-violent activism, and present their vision of Yemen's peaceful future. They helped young protesters develop strategies and action plans to reassert their role in the political process.

"All of them are agreed on building up Yemen, making political, economic and social development first priority," said Peter Salloum, a development practitioner and expert in Middle Eastern Affairs at IREX in Lebanon. "They are trained to use social media and set strategic plans for the transition stage."

The initiative was organized under the Justice and Dignity program, funded by the Department of State's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor to undertake rapid response projects addressing rights issues in the changing MENA region. Follow us for more information about Yemen's youth revolutionaries and their activities in important weeks to come.